The first shift for Blake Wheeler, centre Bryan Little and left-winger Andrew Ladd was a good omen for the home team and the home crowd. Little's steal at the Jets blue-line turned into a dangerous rush, with Wheeler dropping it for Ladd, who scored through goalie Ben Bishop's pads. A strong period for the line, putting themselves into scoring chances several times.
When you wish to discuss the upside for Wheeler, his 16th goal of the season will be a central item. The big winger moved to an open position as he cruised in from the left-wing circle, accepted Ladd's pass from the boards and then took the puck to the net. He eluded Tampa Bay defender Radko Gudas with a crafty move and then moved laterally to his right, out-waiting Bishop. When the goalie finally went down, he rifled a hard wrister into the top portion of the net from an acute angle, igniting the crowd once again. Skill, strength and vision were all present.
Wheeler looked to be on his way to the net with the puck again but was tripped up. Getting no call from Tuesday's much-loved referees at the MTS Centre, the winger could only laugh as he went back to the bench.
Was paired with Evander Kane for one overtime shift but the dynamic duo was unable to get matters into their top gear for a chance. Wheeler then was stopped by Bishop on the first shot of the shootout.
WHAT WE LIKED:
Wheeler's second-period goal is a highlight you'd like to replay over and over again because there's so much to like. Absolutely artful.
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE:
Well, a shootout goal isn't too much to ask, is it?
Wheeler had a three-point night, another 'A' effort by the line that has carried the team quite a distance so far. When he's skating, Wheeler finds very few opponents in the NHL who can keep up with him or slow him down. More of this will have the Jets in good shape in the remaining five games.